Herbal Tea Raid

On Thursday 15th May, 1997 two dozen Sydney based police and federal agents from the T.G.A. (Therapeutic Goods Administration) raided the home of Ray and Elizabeth Thorpe, the base of the Herbal High movement at Uki on the Tweed River near Murwillumbah.

As a consequence, Mr Thorpe was awarded the dubious distinction of being the first man in Australia (and probably the world) to be arrested and charged with the sale and possession of the ancient medicinal Chinese herb DESERT tea and the North American Mormon Tea.

This herbal tea, which has been safely used by the Chinese and other cultures for well over 5000 years, is considered a dangerous drug only by the T.G.A. because it contains NATURAL Ephedrine (which in the plant is balanced and has no bad side effects). Unlike the chemical ephedrine which is marketed legally over the counter at Chemists as a cough medicine and marketed illegally as amphetamine (speed) and generally snorted, smoked or injected. While the chemical is dangerous, the herb is not. It cannot be smoked, snorted, injected or taken in pill or powder form, it can only consumed as an invigorating Herbal Tea.

The T.G.A. fear that this Desert Tea may be used to extract ephedrine. Mr Thorpe argues that this does not happen and there are laws in place to stop this happening. It is illegal to extract alcohol from wine as it is to extract the alkaloid ephedrine from the Desert Tea and Mormon Tea Herb. This practise has nothing to do with the drinkers enjoyment of wine or tea, is uncommon in any event and subject anyway to blackmarket policing. This should not affect the rights of people to enjoy natural herbal teas says Mr Thorpe.

Ray, a long term advocate of man's return to the tradition of herbs and natural remedies, has previously expressed public criticism of the T.G.A. in the past for their continued attack upon the use of natural and traditional folk remedies and recreational herbs.

Some people enjoy stimulating herbs, others like relaxing herbal teas. When this natural enjoyment is denied them, their only options are pharmaceutical chemicals or illegal drugs. Ray feels that this is the ultimate agenda of the T.G.A. and/or the influence of Global Pharmaceutical companies behind the T.G.A. and is calling for an independent enquiry and investigation into corrupt vested interests within their association.

Pharmaceutical Ephedrine is already available legal over the counter at chemists in unlimited quantities (which could also be the subject of extraction) and Ray believes that the attack against the Desert Tea herb is not only corrupt but is part of a larger strategy to diminish the power of herbalism. As in the case of Mormon Tea it is MOST effective in the treatment of asthma, chronic obstructive respiratory disease, sinus, obesity and lethargy.

Western Governments under the influence of the very powerful chemical companies have a history of attacking plant use. But the people in turn have a history of herbal rebellion from the Spanish Inquisition to the Boston Tea Party that created the United States of America. People have been willing to die for their right and freedom to use and enjoy natural herbs and plants. Ray has similarly expressed his resoluteness in defending the people's right to freely enjoy the benefits of all herbal teas.

A T.G.A. executive recently said "If Camellia Thea and Coffea Arabica were to arrive on Australia's shores today he would ban their entry!" That would mean NO TEA OR COFFEE for the twelve million Australians who enjoy their morning 'cuppa'! Would the T.G.A. prefer us to start our day by popping a chemical pill with fluoridated water?

The attending police officer Detective Senior Constable Paul Willinghan confirmed with Mr Thorpe that the myriad of dangerous and destructive chemical drugs available through the underground market is a huge problem in this region. Mr Thorpe says the consequence of banning natural recreational herbs yield social results that the lawmakers have no answer for yet the T.G.A. are intent on destroying the answer! H.E.R.B. (Hippy Ethno Botanical Research Base) activist Floyd Davis says "You've got to understand the type of people we are dealing within the T.G.A. They are the sort of people who don't even trust the side salad on their Plate."

Ray is to appear in the local Lismore Court on the second of June. This case will set a precedent and will have world wide ramifications for the herbal movement. Ray suspects that the T.G.A. is testing the courts decision before taking on the medicinal use of Ma Huang (Desert Tea) by Chinese herbalists.

Ray is interested to see whether the court will rule in favour of the people or whether the court is bound to enforce the corporate interests that so obviously hide behind the power of the T.G.A.

As Ray says with 72% of drug deaths coming from tobacco, 25% from alcohol and 3% from drug misuse, and with over 80% of crime being drug related, why are police and law resource being wasted on chasing down innocent herbal teas?

Ray and his supporters have formed a Herbal Tea Drinkers Front and are campaigning for funds to fight for the peoples right to drink herbal teas of their choice.

For a campaign contribution of ten dollars Ray is offering a special Herbal Tea Drinkers Front information and campaign pack including a "tea for two" sample of an endangered herb tea.

Ray and Elizabeth Thorpe
Herbal Highs
PO Box 157
Uki NSW 2484
Ph/fx (02) 6679-7052